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App Building 101


Today, building an App is a necessity for any company in all business sectors. It is an intense exercise marrying together a multitude of disciplines pulling from many disparate resource pools. The building for myplayXplay, a video and analytics platform, was nothing short of extraordinary. However, we learned even more from being a first-mover/innovator in a market domain exclusively owned by Sony and Apple. 


We set out with our App build to innovate for coaches around Ice Hockey. We ended up at World Cup qualifying teams for Rugby, Football (soccer), test nation Cricket as well as Stanley Cup contenders in the NHL. Wow. Cool only partially describes what hard work and quality code development yielded. And ... a highlight ... we have took the pedagogical concepts of video break-down on iPads to new markets in Surgical OR. This would hold enormous promise as we pushed the concept further in training better surgeons. Video, contextualized, is and can be that powerful.

The attraction of iPad computing is that we are able to convey ease of use and zero-day training philosophy. However, what happens under the hood of the App, and in the background, to get to that ease of use where coaches and players can simply tap to mark an event/clip in order to break down video Live is anything but easy.


myplayXplay, and other Apps we built, were executed by some of the brightest young minds in engineering from Canada's world renowned Waterloo University. From Xcode, JSON, PHP, Python and SQL then inclusive of Video MPEG compression disciplines and H.264 (and now HEVC) Stream Server requirements. Proudly, we created a space for these bright minds to gain a massive amount of knowledge with today's code vernacular.

On a daily basis we would visit, install, demonstrate, get on calls, GOTO meetings, Citrix sessions and Google+ hangouts, while all these activities occurred we pressed forward with no real ability to quantify the effort that was being made. Which is to say we never truly knew the outcomes. But we put our best effort into all of it because we believe we had the best way forward in a video solution. Driven by this belief because we had been already been selected by the highest calibre international teams, coaches and staff, globally! 

We would get on planes, trains as well as into Uber and Hailo taxis. We would deploy and demo Live in game! Always making efforts to re-style coach methods in training sessions. Climbing gantries in high winds was all too regular an event as we froze. We didn't pack properly from country to country. Many times, we would take a near hit on the sideline from a player while we were taking notes down on feature requests. We often jotted down bugs quickly responding with quick prototype App builds. Bespoke features were welcomed and put into ordered lists for implementation down the road. We would watch Apple release schedules which were always challenging! And as new devices and hardware appeared in the market we scrambled to test ensuring compliance. New TCP/IP network challenges and engaging IT groups in large venues was always a challenge. We would troubleshoot the video feeds from OB truck at times right up to first whistle! Of course, lets not forget that we also stay the course with daily stand-ups, review meetings, bug report rundowns, QA testing and all that great white-boarding on figuring out how best a new feature will get put in or how the logic on the server will drive a result in App.



We were extremely saddened when our product is highlighted on broadcast television but the other guys claim it their own. A first-mover/innovator dilemma. We shrugged it off never dissuaded from the higher goal and we pushed on. In doing so we challenged the status quo on what is possible over IP networks. We interact with so many bright and intelligent people, coaches, players, and we have even met presidents! We take their criticism constructively, welcomingly, sometimes frustratingly, mostly with a smile and a legitimate thank you. 


But always ... when we handed the iPad to a head coach, a player or analyst or see some of the best coaches and players in the world using us in-game on broadcast TV and their first response is a smile we knew we had done something magical.

What we see in use on the front end in App is the result of a massive amount of creativity, intelligence and brilliance on the development end. 

This is how you develop an App. In the field, with the customer, hearing them first hand what they want and how they want it.



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